Tuesday, 24 May 2011

WikiLeaks Operational challenges

WikiLeaks Operational challenges

On 17 July 2010, Jacob Appelbaum spoke on behalf of WikiLeaks at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York City, replacing Assange because of the presence of federal agents at the conference. He announced that the WikiLeaks submission system was again up and running, after it had been temporarily suspended. Assange was a surprise speaker at a TED conference on 19 July 2010 in Oxford, and confirmed that the site had begun accepting submissions again.

Upon returning to the US from the Netherlands, on 29 July, Appelbaum was detained for three hours at the airport by US agents, according to anonymous sources. The sources told Cnet that Appelbaum's bag was searched, receipts from his bag were photocopied, and his laptop was inspected, although in what manner was unclear. Appelbaum reportedly refused to answer questions without a lawyer present, and was not allowed to make a phone call. His three mobile phones were reportedly taken and not returned. On 31 July, he spoke at a Defcon conference and mentioned his phone being "seized". After speaking, he was approached by two FBI agents and questioned.

Assange has acknowledged that the practice of posting largely unfiltered classified information online could one day lead the website to have "blood on our hands." He expressed the view that the potential to save lives, however, outweighs the danger to innocents. Furthermore, WikiLeaks has highlighted independent investigations which have failed to find any evidence of civilians harmed as a result of WikiLeaks' activities.

On 25 September 2010, after being suspended by Assange for "disloyalty, insubordination and destabilization", Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the German spokesman for WikiLeaks, told Der Spiegel that he was resigning, saying "WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that's why I am leaving the project". Assange accused Domscheit-Berg of leaking information to Newsweek, claiming the WikiLeaks team was unhappy with Assange's leadership and handling of the Afghan war document releases. Domscheit-Berg left with a small group to start OpenLeaks.com, a new leak organisation and website with a different management and distribution philosophy. Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year old Icelandic university student, resigned after he challenged Assange on his decision to suspend Domscheit-Berg and was bluntly rebuked. Iceland MP Birgitta Jonsdottir also left WikiLeaks, citing lack of transparency, lack of structure, and poor communication flow in the organization. According to The Independent, at least a dozen key supporters of WikiLeaks left the website in 2010.

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